Simple Lighting Techniques for Photographers, with Tony Corbell

Master the pro techniques for producing creative and simple lighting solutions with award-winning portrait photographer Tony Corbell.

Capturing great portraits is all about understanding how to manipulate the quality, quantity, and direction of light. Learn how the pros use a variety of light shaping tools to create fantastic portraits every time, and in any kind of situation.

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Course Lessons:

Lesson 1: Introduction (Duration 06:12)

Join Tony Corbell as he introduces the class and then kicks things off with a portrait shoot using an umbrella as a light source.

Lesson 2: Octabank (Duration 05:07)

Learn how to use the 60" Octabank as a wonderful light source for soft, smooth portraits.

Lesson 3: The Softbox (Duration 05:22)

The softbox is the go-to tool for lighting individual portraits. Tony shows you a number of ways to use this versatile light source.

Lesson 4: Using Multiple Lights (Duration 05:09)

After learning different ways to use individual lights on their own, Tony teaches you how you can bring together a main light, fill light, and accent lights to create a beautiful portrait.

Lesson 5: Nailing Exposure (Duration 06:02)

Understanding how to use an incident light meter will allow you to get your exposure right every single time.

Lesson 6: Taming the Sun (Duration 10:06)

Direct sunlight can be too harsh for portraits, but using a diffusion panel to filter the light falling on to your subject will allow you to shoot outdoors on the brightest of days.

Lesson 7: Using Speedlight Outdoors (Duration 08:07)

A speedlight can be used to add light to a scene and enable you to light your subject to match the ambient light of the sky.

Lesson 8: Reflector as a Primary Light Source (Duration 06:45)

Learn how to properly use a reflector as a primary light source to increase the light falling on your subject's face and close the gap on the bright highlights for stunning portraits in natural light.

Lesson 9: Made in the Shade (Duration 10:37)

Sometimes we need to take light away to open up the shadows on the face and discover beautiful light for portrait work.

Lesson 10: Wrapping it Up (Duration 02:50)

Tony shares some parting words and ties together all the lessons learned in this course.

Meet Your Instructor: Tony Corbell

Tony has been very fortunate having photographed three U.S. presidents, 185 World Leaders, 65 Nigerian Heads of State, about 600 brides and grooms, a couple of NASA astronauts and lots…

91 Comments

  1. I thought the course was wonderful. There was so much information. I had personally attended seminar conducted by well many known photographer. but I have learned more watching this series than I have learned at many of the seminars together. This is because you cannot always get the best seating and some times you missed something that was said. Watching the seminar on my computer screens gives me the best place where I can learn the most. I can also replay the program in case I missed something. These program are awesome. N. Yip

  2. This was an amazing insite to photography on a bigger scale. The lesson was at a level that was not at all baffling and I did't need to keep rewinding segments to understand the jagan. I think I need to watch a course on using a light meter... And metering the ambient light from my camera. Other than that I feel I learnt so much. Thank you guys. Cassius (London UK)

  3. Excellent course. I never really understood how to properly light a subject, and this course explained it in simple, understandable terms, using examples with quoted exposures. The part on how to use a meter was one of the most helpful.

  4. I don't normally give feed back but this course was great - the information was put in a very simple but passionate way - the lighting examples were just right and inspiring and the photographs taken were really excellent. This course is a must for any beginner/ improver and anyone who wants to develop thier lighting skills. I like this mans teaching style and want to see more from him after seeing this course!

  5. Great work ! In a short period of time you explained how to work with light in studio and outdoor. I learned a lot and enjoyed watching this video.

  6. In the section with outdoors flash, he took a meter reading of the sky and it read f/11 at 1/800th.. which created silhouettes of the trees. But then he added a flash and all of a sudden the trees 100's of feet away were lit up? I'm thinking he must have stopped down to to 1/200th or 1/250th unless he used high speed sync eh? My own preference but I think it would have looked really cool if he kept the same ratio at 1/250th and kept the trees as silhouettes.. Great course though over-all.. especially liked the meter reading information, would enjoy more of that.

  7. I really appreciate the information I've gained in Tony's explanation on lighting. Many times, it takes someone saying things in a different way to explain some simple aspects of a subject. I believe he has done it with this. Thank you.

  8. Tony Corbell is an easy to understand teacher. Would have loved learning how to balance daylight & speedlights on manual though. I do not have TTL anything. I am loving these courses. Money well spent! Linda Ralston lkralston

  9. I really enjoyed this class. I shy away from shooting people because I don't have a good understanding of lighting. This really simplified things. There were many good points but there were 2 gems that I came away with. One was-don't try to please other photographers, try to please yourself. The other was the principle of subtractive lighting.

  10. Just finished watching Simple Lighting Techniques for Photographers by Tony Corbell. Man, what an eye opener. He explained some things about flash and outdoor lighting in a way I had never heard before. I plan to get out immediately and practice these techniques. Very good course. Thanks for putting it on the site.

  11. This tutorial rocks. Covers basics of light really well and the tools you need to get different effects. Why a certain light modifier is being used, what situations call for what kind of lighting--really excellent, and Tony Corbell is exceedingly good at explaining what he's doing. Even though I've been an outdoor photographer for years, I learned a ton of useful info here. Trying to expand my ability to shoot on location without carrying a truckload of gear but being able to shoot in any lighting conditions, this tutorial, along with, frankly, most of the ones I've watched on Kelby, have made my year's subscription possibly the best $200 I've ever spent. Thanks and keep 'em coming. And please have more Corbell videos (and that's coming from a guy who can't wait for more Tim Wallace episodes too! Cheers,

  12. Tony Corbell passion for his craft and his ability to convey his message is brilliant. I gained a bunch of great points form this course. I think I will watch it several more times just to make sure I have it right. The subtractive light segment was particularly brilliant as it wasn't something I had really thought a lot about. I am looking forward to trying this technique out as soon as I can. Thank you Tony, very inspirational!

  13. This course is fantastic. I would recommend it to anyone. It is full of great information presented in a very understandable way. Tony Corbell is obviously a master of his craft and a very good instructor.

  14. Tony Corbell is an excellent instructor. Love the way he systematically addresses each light, demonstrating that light's advantages, then moves to orchestrate them together. By the time he has the whole group of lights working together the results are absolutely beautiful. ~Linda R. King

  15. I never leave feedback, however this course was exceptional! Thank you Tony. I love your teaching style and I can't wait for your next Kelby Training course.

  16. This guy can really teach. He knows his stuff and he really knows how to pitch it. All of this presentation was clear, succinct and so illuminating. I may have to re-take the course several times to fully digest all his wisdom but I am already aware that my increased knowledge of the manipulation of available light sources will surely improve my photography

  17. What a great course! I had a lot of AHA moments watching this. Thanks for speaking to the beginners who are just entering the world of lighting. Wish there were more Tony courses - really enjoyed his teaching style. Looking forward to more. Would love to learn how to effectively use the light meter and also maybe how to choose the particular type of lights to use (speedlites, alien bees, etc.). Thanks!

  18. Tony's natural light skills are spot on! He got really great result using minimal equipment. Thanks for bringing him. He brings back many basics that that people are rushing through and don't learn and that's why they become frustrated later when they can't understand why they aren't getting the results they want.

  19. Fantastic! I did some shooting yesterday for a project for a professional photography course that I am enrolled in, and many of the problems that I experienced shooting indoor and outdoor portraits were addressed in this series. Yes, I'm definitely going to do a re-shoot! Kelby Training is a tremendous value, and I would highly recommend it to anyone who is serious about photography! Thanks!

  20. I've just signed up for Kelby Training and this was a fabulous start! Tony's instructions are clear and concise and easy to follow. I was reminded of some important things I'd forgotten with the passage of time and I learned some new techniques and tricks, which I can't wait to try out. Besides that, Tony was interesting to listen to and held my attention throughout the entire program.

  21. One of the best courses around... straight to to point, keeping simple all concepts and extremely applicable to the field. Being part of this training website, best bucks I've paid.

  22. This was the first video I looked at in your course. If you guarantee me , that all other videos have the same quality, I will subscribe right now !! Thx, great !!

  23. Tony's course is a great synopsis of using light in the studio and outdoors. He covers the basics that everyone needs to understand. I liked his easygoing teaching style. This is probably a course I will come back to watch again

  24. Tony's course is a great synopsis of using light in the studio and outdoors. He covers the basics that everyone needs to understand. I liked his easygoing teaching style. This is probably a course I will come back to watch again

  25. I really enjoyed this course. Tony is a great instructor and did a very good job explaining key points as well as demonstrating them. He knows his stuff, so add more course from Tony!

  26. Amazing series of lessons! He really shows the difference a half a step in position can make. From start to finish, this series covers an huge amount of lighting tips in all different scenarios. If you shoot models indoors or outdoors, this is the one series you MUST watch.

  27. The studio session was fine - in line with other things I have seen before, so it did not make much for me (although it probably will for others). The outdoor stuff was really good! Simple things, effective and food for thought! Looking forward to seeing more!

  28. This has got to be one of the best courses on lighting and really understanding how it works. I've been struggling with reflectors and measuring exposure with multiple light sources for 5 years now. This course has brought it all together. Tony Corbell is an amazing teacher. Though he explains fast at times, I had no problem following his explanations having had some experience with ambient, background and highlights in the past. I look forward to perhaps seeing more courses from him on Kelby Training. Thank you.

  29. While I don't do much studio work, I must say that the instruction in this video provides extremely useful explanation and knowledge of outdoors portraiture. It's amazing how Tony Corbell has so clearly and visually demonstrated the use of diffuses, reflectors and flashes to control and shape light in this environment. Good teaching.

  30. I really liked this course. The old school values, using an off camera light meter and what you can expect from the different light boxes, umbrellas were well defined. Explaining how to narrow the gap between the highlights and shadows through various techniques were well explained.

  31. Excellent course. Concisely delivered with little excess verbiage, yet very understable and to the point. Wish they were all as informative and to the point as this one.

  32. This was a very informative course, the instructor was excellent in his delivery and presentation. I would watch anything he puts out in the future.

  33. This course was so so informative! I have watched a couple of others that I wasn't as impressed with for a few reasons but mainly there was not enough explanation about on why they did what they did. This course explained why they made the charnges, what it would do to the subject, and I loved that he shared camera settings! Excellent course!!!

  34. I truly enjoyed his approach to teaching this course. Reminded me of my photography professor in college. No nonsense, but a thorough and informative lesson. It's apparent that he loves what he does and, unlike so many other photographers, doesn't mind sharing his wealth of wisdom with new photographers. I hope to see more courses by him.

  35. I have to add my kudos to the list. Tony was so easy to understand. It was so well explained. I think lighting is so tricky and I needed this. Thank you!

  36. Superb informative in a well laid out format, well explained without being to long winded. One of the better lighting classes. Not to advanced but hearing a pro re iterate simple techniques makes you re think how you do things

  37. I love these kelby training segments especially Tony, he is such a good teacher. He is so thought with his explanation of how deferent things work. I have learned so much from Tony and the other instructor, It is just a joe to sit down watch a training video !

  38. This course was awesome! It was so clear and gave me a much better view on how to use the different lightning techniques. Thank you very much!

  39. What a great course. I learned a load of new techniques for studio and outdoor lighting. Really recommend this to anyone who wants to keep their kit to the minimum when shooting outdoors with flash and WHAT you need to have for studio lighting algorithms. Cheers, Mark Patten

  40. Enjoyed the flow of his teaching method. He was able to get key concepts of lighting across in a understandable and creative way. The whole course was informative but the outdoor lighting segments spoke directly to some of problems I was dealing with. The methods he used were simple, yet the lighting in the photographs was stunning. In the summer I shoot for an outdoors inner city camp for children. My intent as a photographer is to create positive imagery for these children. Some of the issues that I have struggled with, he answered. His most valuable tidbits were the explanation of directional lighting outdoors and his ideas of how lighting for the digital camera is different, the importance of lowering the contrast in the scene to meet the digital camera's dynamic range. He provided the conceptual framework as well as practical methods that I can apply to resolve the difficult lighting issues that I face at camp. Thank you, Tony.

  41. it was great! really walked you thru step by step, finally understood how a hand held light meter works too, Am putting this in my favorites to watch again.

  42. What a great course, thank you Tony and Kelby Training. Enjoyed Tony's informative and relaxed style of teaching. More of Tony please! More examples would be great, as would more on studio lighting and portraits.

  43. Loved this course! I will be watching it again. He's an awesome instructor and showed so many way to use light that I've never thought of.

  44. Excellent course. Simple, clear, objective... To learn, people must go thorough the first steps. And this course deals with the basics of lighting... To more advanced lighting, there will be other courses...

  45. Hi I am once again blown away by such a great course. I would recommend this to everyone. I did not realize that so many great photographers are wiling to share there knowledge, and explain there craft to the world. I feel so lucky to be able to watch all these terrific video's. I can only hope that Tony Corbell will grace us with some more of his work. Thank You!!

  46. So many great points. What I appreciate most is I can take several tips from Tony and start using them right now, today. Thank you!

  47. Really solid presentation. So many tips to add to my tool box. Kind of disappointed there was only one presentation available, Tony Corbell is a master photographer/instructor.

  48. Loved this course. I've gone back and watched it a couple of times. Tony has a real knack for discussing and explaining lighting. Excellent stuff.

  49. I found this course to be very informative, it is probably one of those courses people overlook and skip but if you want to understand lighting techniques then this is the course for you.

  50. Wow. This was terrific. Tony is an amazing teacher with so much knowledge. There were a couple of places where he was talking and the video camera stayed focused on him; I wish it would have panned out a little to show what Tony was referring to as he made adjustments to the lights etc. I was fascinated by the way he posed his subjects, too. As a newcomer to the world of photography, I didn't quite understand why he rotated and angled the subjects the way he did. I would love for Tony to do another course in posing to help us mere mortals learn to see things the way he does.

  51. This was an excellent summary for both beginners and intermediates into the science of lighting. The instructor showed both the good and the bad of various lighting techniques and the lack of it.

  52. Tony is an incredible instructor. He speaks very clear and concise and his knowledge of the craft shows through. Thank you for teaching it in a way we can understand and I look forward to getting out and trying some of the techniques you taught.

  53. This was A fun course!! Very simple to understand! I wish I had more to say but I am so excited to get out there and put some of these techniques to work for me! Thank you Tony so much for your knowledge.and thank you kelby training! -- Yes please post my feedback!

  54. Yes Sir Tony is from the old school ( and thats why i love his style ) this course has educated me so much regards lighting and photography in general , i know this is a big call but for my money the best I've seen thus far on Kelby , Nice Tony thank you ..

  55. Excellent course. Thinking light is a wonderful concept, if mastered it can make a good photographer into a great one. Tony's approach and simple techniques help me to slow down and think through a photograph and feel less frantic about getting the result I want. Thanks for your calm, thoughtful approach and taking the time to put this course together.

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